Notes on the Thirteenth Doctor

Dear Fandom – 

1. Within certain social parameters, the role of Doctor Who is to entertain. The ideal candidate for the Doctor may be black, Asian, Inuit, Native American, gay, bisexual, androgynous, non-binary. Or it may be a thirty-something white male. You will have to deal with that.

2. The fans do not have control over the show. There is a good reason for this.

3. Just because we’ve never had a female Doctor before, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to work.

4. Just because we’ve never had a female Doctor before, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work.

5. New incarnations come and go all the time. Change is part of the show. I cannot believe we’re still having this conversation.

6. “Nurse Who”? Really? That’s the best you can manage?

7. Jodie Whittaker may be brilliant. Or she may be dreadful. You don’t know. Neither do I. But do not fill the gaps with a worst case scenario and think you’ve developed an unshakable prediction.

8. I thought Matt Smith was going to be a trainwreck. Then he opened his mouth, and all was forgiven. “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

9. The ‘Yeah, it really worked for Ghostbusters’ argument is founded on false logic and we both know it.

10. The notion that you believe your £150 license fee entitles you to any sort of stake in this is frankly laughable.

11. Stop calling Doctor Who a liberal left-wing show. It isn’t.

12. You do not get to say who is a ‘fan’ of the show, whether that person likes a particular Doctor or hates them. They’re just someone with an opinion. That opinion may be worthless, but the bar of acceptable levels of service to a particular programme is not and cannot be set by you. Sorry.

13. Those of you who say you’ll stop watching: we’ll believe it when we see it.

14. Whether you’re left or right wing, your ‘passion’ for the show and the fact that you love and care about it so deeply does not entitle you to be a dick. That’s the same argument Isaac used on Dom in Holby City to justify his emotional and physical abuse. Didn’t work then either.

15. To suggest that Whittaker got the part simply because she’s a woman – whether you’re a sceptic decrying such a move or a feminist celebrating it – is nothing short of insulting. It insults the performer, it insults the writer and producer and it insults the BBC.

16. Memo to the BBC: it doesn’t help my argument when you start talking about ‘a commitment to diversity’. Button it.

17. Women: please stop assuming that everyone who begins a sentence with “I’m not sexist, but…” really is sexist.

18. Men: please stop beginning sentences with “I’m not sexist, but…”. It just isn’t worth the hassle.

19. The fact that Ian Levine has gone on a complete rant about this should tell you all you need to know about how you should be reacting yourselves.

Cordially yours,


P.S. Please stop using the word ‘Whovian’. It is a silly name for silly people.

Categories: New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Notes on the Thirteenth Doctor

  1. Kathryn O

    FIrst of all, when Bowie changed his persona from a folk singer to a gender changing alien, his carreer took off. Secondly, there is a classic book called Left Hand of Darkness about gender changing aliens. It is sort of iconic in the genre so I suggest reading it as it is also good. Thirdly, Whovian is silly. 12 called us fans on the net who talk about him Troll-y Dollies. I love it. it’s from the 60s Trolly Dolly a term for stewardesses. besides being very British, it also has all those sexual implications. (yes, some of us lady nerds have had and enjoy sex) Proud Troll-y Dolly

  2. castaigne

    Except for that “Whovian” part. We ARE a silly people and we deserve a silly name.

  3. The general reactions to this news, don’t really come as a surprise to me. Heck, ever since finding out Moffat wrote ‘The Curse of Fatal Death’ I knew it was only a matter of time, and it has been fairly signposted in advance.
    On one side you have the smug-condescending feminists, the chauvinistic traditionalists on the other, and everything in between.

    But what I’m more concerned about here, is how the actual show itself is going to handle this change. Because given New-Who’s history, they’re not exactly subtle when it comes to this sort of thing. Be it political or sexual.
    What I mean is that I fear we’ll get something like a companion with an awkward Bill/Martha/Amy like crush on the Doctor for some unnecessary tension. Or some straw misogynists spewing out straw sexism for the express purposes of being ‘wittily’ shot down and mocked. Because you just know they won’t be able to resist those kind of cringe-worthy ‘look aren’t we so progressive’ back patting and self-aware jokes. And I fear that’s what’s going to end up blemishing her run. All I want is for them to just shrug and get on with it, that for me would be far more refreshing.
    I’m fully prepared to give the benefit of the doubt. To quote Ally Ross, “they could appoint a horse to the role and I still wouldn’t much care.” But this could go wrong very badly if they’re not careful.

    I have no familiarity with Jodie Whittaker, or Broadchurch for that matter. So I’ll be starting completely fresh with judging her performance. But she does face what is essentially the most challenging task since Patrick Troughton took over. And if they don’t pull their finger out and make a good first impression with the scripts, and do something to improve Capaldi’s flagging ratings. She might end up being the scapegoat like poor Colin Baker was instead.

    • reverend61

      As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m genuinely not sure how they’re going to be able to manage it. If this had happened under Moffat I’d have expected an awful lot of shoehorned social commentary. But Chibnall – while he has variable form writing for DW – is unproven when it comes to actually scripting an arc, so I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I share your concerns about Whittaker becoming a pariah – and there’s a part of me that can’t help thinking this is the BBC’s plan.

      I suspect it’ll be mostly OK, with bits that annoy me intensely…!

  4. Susan

    I really am not upset about the debate on this subject. I think that it is natural that fans want to tell their reaction and thoughts about a new Doctor that is different from all the ones before.
    I think a lot of those who are somewhat opposed to it being a women, are not sexist at all, but just hurt that something they care about is evolving into something unfamiliar.

    I personally like Jodie as an actor, but had been hoping for a male. Not because I dislike women and not because I don’t think an alien Doctor should be portrayed by a female.
    I simply enjoy the show a specific way. People want to hate on those who enjoy any romantic aspect of the show, but, I like to be attracted to the Doctor. Who should tell me that I shouldn’t enjoy the show in the way that makes me dream happy daydreams about travelling with the Doctor and it being someone I would be attracted to?

    I will be watching in the future. I hope that I love the new showrunner and the new actors. I hope Jodie has a blast with the coveted spot in the Tardis. I know I would.

    • reverend61

      I think you’ve nailed it Susan – and the fact that you’re (presumably) a woman replying to this speaks volumes. There is an assumption that every critic of Whittaker is a misogynist male – this is baseless and unhelpful and completely untrue! I’ve read many comments from women over the past few days who are as reserved about this as you are, and it has nothing to do with sexism.

      I do agree that familiarity is part of it. This is a blank slate, and that always leads to the worst kind of imaginings, in a strictly literal sense.

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